Friday, April 3, 2009

Mascot Rage

I am very angry with my high school. For as long as I can remember, they have been the “Hortonville Polar Bears” and their mascot, Polie, is a large, white bear. This nickname and mascot denigrates an entire species of animal, and the Hortonvillians - Hortonvillers - Hartoonians - whatever - will not desist.

I am very angry with the Boston franchise of the NBA. For as long as I can remember, they have been the “Boston Celtics”, and their mascot, “Lucky”, is some sort of leprechaun. This nickname and mascot denigrates an entire race of people, MY people, the Irish, and the Bostonians will not desist.

I am very angry with Notre Dame University. For as long as I can remember, they have been the “Fighting Irish”, and their mascot, the Notre Dame Leprechaun, is portrayed in a fighting stance with both fists raised. This nickname and mascot perpetuates a stereotype of MY people, the Irish, as drunken Micks who are troublemakers and brawlers, and Notre Dame our mother will not desist.

I am very happy with the New York City franchise of the American League of Baseball. For as long as I can remember, they have been the “New York Yankees”, and their most recent attempt at having a mascot (“Dandy” - a human dressed to look like a bird, with a large and unattractive hat ) was assaulted and beaten by Yankees fans so many times between 1980 and 1985 that management dispatched Dandy, and George Steinbrenner claims to have no recollection of Dandy.

I am very confused about the Poynette School District. For as long as I can remember, they have been the “Poynette Indians”, and their mascot has been an Indian in a feathered headdress. This name and mascot denigrates an entire race, and perpetuates a stereotype of Native Americans as a warlike people who were always in full battle dress, but they haven‘t used the mascot for about the past ten years. A few days ago, the Poynette School Board decided that starting next year, Poynette athletic teams will no longer be known as the Indians. But they didn’t decide what the new nickname will be, and they won’t, until the first of January 2010.

I think they should be the “Poynette Paquettes”, for the 19th-century fur trader Pierre Paquette, after whom the village was supposed to be named - don’t ask me how it got to be “Poynette”; and their mascot should be the chemical symbol for Fluorine (F). Or the chemical symbol for the Fluoride ion (F*), which is what they’re not putting in the water there any more.

Just a thought. But I can’t see how “Paquettes” or “F” or “F*” would offend anyone. Oh - wait a minute - no doubt some would call them the Poynette F'ers.

Never mind.


  1. The Devil Rays, as most everyone knows, are now simply the Tampa Bay Rays. Apparently that "Devil' reference, um ... bedeviled them. What's their mascot? A 6-foot 6 inch "seadog" named Raymond - a blue, furry thing with oversize sneakers and his baseball cap on backward. Some say he looks more like a Manatee.

    The Washington Bullets became the Nationals after the "bullets" reference became a bit too appropos in the crime-plagued capital city. Now the mascot is a chicken-looking thing called "Screech" who purportedly favors a diet of Gummy Worms.

    Scottsdale Community College opened in 1970 with a flash of anti-sports sentiment. Students at the school in the Phoenix suburb decided their sports teams would be the Artichokkes and would wear pink and purple. The mascot became "Artie" - basically someone with a plump, fuzzy green bag over his or her torso. The Establishment soon wrote the students' guaranteed voice in such matters out of the school's "constitution." But Artie endures.

    Wisconsin schools have long been rife with "Indian" themes in their names. The practice inevitably gave rise to such politically incorrect mascots as Marquette's erstwhile "Willie Wampum"

    Change has been slow but inexorable. The wooden Indian that somebody carved with a chainsaw is long gone from the main intersection in Mosinee, where the High School still favors the name "Indians" and the middle school prefers "Chiefs."

    The Marathon High School Red Raiders kept their name. They simply traded in their Indian for a pirate.

    Meanwhile, the debate drifts raptly on. Here are some Wisconsin school teams that underwent name changes in recent years.

  2. I needed this post today. :) Thank you, Tim...

    As the descendent of German dairy farmers in Wisconsin, I can't tell you how disgusted I am with my hometown, Monroe, and their reprehensible insistence on keeping the "Cheesemakers" mascot. The depiction of all German and Swiss immigrants as alpine curd wranglers in lederhosen and feathered hats indisputably leads to discrimination and bullying against students with blonde hair, blue eyes and a penchant for lactose. The trauma I experienced has only strengthened my resolve to see the "Cheesemakers" name done away with, but for some, the scars run much deeper than that.

  3. The person who wrote down what the name for Poynette (Paquette)had very bad handwriting and they could not read it well and guessed it was Poynette. That is what I was told and many others were told as to why Poynette Is Poynette.

  4. Are you saying that we are offending polar bears by having one as our mascot? Are we hurting their feelings and making the polar bears cry? And how can you compare a Native American or an Irish person with a polar bear?